The Big Idea: Making Sustainability Sexy
Sustainability and the luxury world are not always easy bedfellows. And the disconnect between the two is particularly obvious within the marine realm, where many owners preach eco-everything until it comes to the rare woods and exotic stones that differentiate their vessels. “Everyone talks about the greater good,” says veteran yacht designer Greg Marshall. “But the difference is these people have money to buy whatever they want—and their yacht is a statement of the pinnacle of their lives.”
Probably the most striking example these days is teak, which is limited due to sanctions on Myanmar, where the best trees are found. “Burmese teak is more beautiful on decks than any other wood—plus it stays cool in the sun and feels good on the feet,” says Tankoa CEO Vincenzo Poerio. “Owners see it as the epitome of classic luxury.”
Synthetic teak is available, but though sustainable, performance isn’t there yet—it can be much hotter underfoot than real teak, for example. These new synthetics are better for smaller boats, says Poerio, or in areas like the beach club, where spills can’t stain the material. More sustainable woods such as cork and yellow cedar are utilized but don’t yet have the same status.
Marshall used a sustainable decking material made from smashed granite on his design Big Fish, which has cruised 450,000 miles in 12 years. The decking, which feels like walking on sand, has been resealed twice in that period. If it had been made from teak, it would have had to have been replaced two or three times. “It’s sustainable and performs well, but our market doesn’t want it,” he says. “They want teak.”
The good news is that composite teak—teak waste fibers infused with resin—has the same visual appeal and performance as the harvested wood. It provides the sustainability that is not attainable with the real thing. Marshall believes it will be more widely used in years to come.
Westport’s Sylvia Bolton has also seen engineered woods migrating into yacht interiors. They have the same look as wood planks but offer greater longevity. “They’re developed for high-end hospitality, which have stringent rules against flammability, making them ideal for yachts,” says Bolton.
The designers are witnessing the slow-but-gradual adoption of sustainable materials, but the battle has much to do with market perception. Marshall is looking at mushroom-based leathers that he describes as “excellent,” while Poerio has witnessed advances in faux marble that could potentially compete with natural Carrara, so long as it’s given a chance to take hold with clients.
“We need to change the idea that luxury means only natural wood or marble,” says Poerio. “Once the quality is there and scales of efficiency drive the costs down, it will be a matter of marketing.”
Beach Club: Bilgin ‘Tatiana’
The beach club aboard the 263-foot Tatiana caught our attention the moment the yacht hit the water. Designed for an owner who despises design clichés, the sweeping two-level beach club is a formula for how to achieve spectacular waterside living with a sense of style.
Conceived primarily by Unique Yacht Design, the club’s lower-level centerpiece is a 30-foot-long freshwater pool that offers far-reaching views out to sea. The pool is joined by a wet bar forward with glass columns, Carrara marble and a backlit blue-agate floor that bring on the Gatsby vibe. There is also a steam room, a shower and a dedicated massage room with its own side terrace for an overwater treatment. At anchor, with the transom door and two side terraces unfolded, the club measures 1,520 square feet.
Perhaps its most distinguishing feature is the dramatic stairway linking the main salon. Macassar wood and white Carrara-marble stairs are coupled with teak strips and backlit panels. On the upper level, a second cocktail bar is joined to a spa pool, with clear windows in the floor that dapple the beach club below in diffused light.
Megayacht: Azimut Grande Trideck
Italian shipyard Azimut is so proud of its new flagship design that it added the number of decks to the name. But in truth, the Azimut Grande Trideck moniker sells it short, since the flybridge actually gives the vessel four levels.
While linking inside and outdoors is the driving force behind yacht design these days, Alberto Mancini’s tiered exterior and the Achille Salvagni open-plan interior set the Trideck apart from competitors in the high-volume 125-foot class. Looking aft from the flybridge, the Azimut has a cascading effect that blends practical design with aesthetics. The flybridge has sun recliners, a lounge and a bar forward, with the upper helm discreetly in front, concealed behind a divider. The level below has a foredeck with a Jacuzzi, a salon and an aft alfresco dining area. The beach club on the water includes a fold-out transom swim platform to expand the space.
But the most creative area is the main deck. The raised mezzanine level replaces a traditional, and often dark, cockpit area that can feel like a neglected social space. Nicknamed the Sea View Terrace, this large open version floats above the beach club like an oceanside villa’s patio. Salvagni’s whimsical-but-elegant interior, with its rounded furniture, unusual ceiling patterns and architectural details that even extend to the stairwells, is a worthy complement to the unconventional exterior. Light colors and big windows, plus multiple doors, offer a connection to the outside.
Performance-wise, the Trideck’s wave-piercing bow improves fuel efficiency by more than 40 percent, which means the yacht can reach 24 knots on two 2,600 hp MTU engines. Azimut used carbon fiber across the hull to minimize weight. The boat also has lithium-ion battery packs for hours of silent running for its house systems. All in all, it’s this year’s breakthrough design in a competitive category.
Sailing Yacht: Baltic 146 ‘Path’
There’s a calm, stately beauty to Path, the third-largest sailing yacht (by volume) to emerge from Baltic’s yard in Finland. The owner wanted a long-distance cruiser for transiting the globe but with space for his children and grandchildren to come along on the journeys. The carbon-composite sloop has a clean, modern-looking profile, with a vertical bow and open decks as well as a long hardtop that extends back over the cockpit. On top are 646 square feet of solar panels that generate up to 8.7 kw to power the yacht’s lithium batteries.
The interior by Margo Vrolijk takes cues from the owner’s home, blending teak furniture and woodwork with fabrics and light-colored bulkheads. It has a modern nautical sensibility, with a gentle touch that refrained from too much wood paneling.
Naval architecture and exterior styling are by German-based Judel/Vrolijk & co. The team created a technically accomplished performance racer that clocked speeds in the high twenties during its 6,000-mile shakedown cruise last year. Two fixed headstays and a detachable bowsprit balance easily managed family sailing with competitive outings.
For toys and tenders, the owner selected an electric-powered RIB, a 21-foot twin-engine RibEye and two Reverso Match sailing dinghies (which disassemble into four parts for easy stowage). The bonus is that when the tender is off the fore-deck, the space converts to a pool.
Interior: Feadship ‘Boardwalk’
A custom yacht’s interior is, at its most extreme, an owner’s most personalized design statement. Nobody took that idea further than Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta, who was so involved with the creation of his 252-foot Feadship, Boardwalk, that designer Amy Halffman describes him as “an extreme detail man, down to the quarter of an inch.”
That obsession to specificity played out across the interior, which incorporates 55 stones, marbles and tiles. Stones were matched to specific areas—a white opal for the salon and an onice grigio for the sky lounge—combined with sapele and other dark-hued woods for contrast.
Lighting is a critical feature, even in seemingly mundane spots such as the social area on the main-deck aft cockpit, which happens to be Fertitta’s favorite spot on the yacht. It has the requisite lounges, bar and large flat-screen televisions, but the ceiling has delicate curves with inset lights and additional illuminants lighting up the area.
The love of light, enhanced by glass and crystals, is even more evident inside. In a corner of the dining room, near the main entry, is a bronze sculpture of a female torso clad in a dress composed of crystals, diamonds and pearls by artist Estella Fransbergen. The sculpture proved to be the inspiration for Halffman for the crystals and dramatic lighting that permeate the yacht. Even the beach club has a light fixture of Swarovski crystals and white quartz. All those sparkles contrast nicely with dark joinery, polished nickel and stainless features.
Boardwalk has a more relaxing side, too. Staterooms and the office have a more laid-back vibe, mixing neutral hues with splashes of color. An informal dining area allows the family and guests to gather, and even prepare, their own meals. Imagine that.
Comeback: Benetti Motopanfilo
A classic yacht reimagined for the present day is not an easy assignment to pull off, but a contemporary reinterpretation of Benetti’s 1960s Motopanfilo managed to successfully blend old and new. Far from a clichéd retro remake, the 2022 exterior, jointly conceived by Francesco Struglia and Benetti, revamps the original Motopanfilo’s creative styling with sympathetic restraint. But it’s the interior, reimagined by Claudio Lazzarini and Carl Pickering, that reinvents the soul.
On the main and upper decks, the interior spaces are framed by structural “ribs” dressed in textured white lacquer. Each rib features an integrated panel that echoes the nautical doors and portholes of the ’60s, which are more elegant, subtle architectural details than clumsy tributes to the past. Billowy cream curtains and golden-hued teak-veneer flooring continue the modern theme, offering a fresh take on the classic elements. The decor introduces a pale shade of blue into an otherwise traditional blue-and-white nautical stripe—again, a 2022 designer’s take on a typical ’60s look. The signature piece for the salon’s cabinets, which include teak strips, is a freestanding bar that is a clever, museum-quality touch. For the modern yacht owner, large swaths of glass, marble and stainless steel carry the design into the present day.
When at anchor, the fold-down transom extends the swim platform, making it ideal for waterside dining. The upper deck offers oversized sun pads with a glass-encased Jacuzzi, and above, an observation platform with glass balustrades for uninterrupted views. Perhaps the most eye-catching exterior detail is the retractable cabana in place of a beach club. It delivers functionality with all the glamour of the 1960s Amalfi Coast. The boat is an elegant nod to its predecessor without getting bogged down in the nostalgic touches.
Charter Yacht: ‘Victorious’
Delivered just ahead of the Monaco Yacht Show in 2021, Victorious is fine-tuned to the tastes of its car-enthusiast owner. And it’s these personalized features that make the 279-footer so unusual—and attractive—for the charter market.
The gentleman’s club-style room on the sundeck is born from the owner’s desire to eschew a traditional open deck in favor of an enclosed snug (don’t panic, there’s an open aft deck, too). It’s a year-round, climate-controlled hub that’s as well-suited for exploring Nordic fjords as for adventuring in tropical climates. An open fireplace is flanked by a pair of grand mahogany speakers. The humidor, glass-fronted wine cellar and open-air terrace with built-in heaters add to the Gaucho aesthetic.
The largest build to come out of Turkey is also the most family friendly. Twelve guest suites include a full-beam VIP and an aft-facing owner’s suite with a Jacuzzi and a private terrace. All are named after F1 racetracks. A stateroom on the bridge deck is set up as a hospital room. On the main deck, the owner substituted the traditional salon with a kid’s playroom. For evenings of live music, the observation lounge has a baby grand piano, while the lower deck beach club, with its drop-down doors, pool, hammam and beauty salon, adds a luxurious finishing touch.
The boat has exceptional range, making it a legitimate world cruiser, that lets you sail the globe in luxury. Organized by Burgess, Victorious is one of the most exciting charter yachts to emerge in years.
Submersible: U-Boat Worx Nemo
Exploring the ocean’s depths has been a topic of intrigue since Jules Verne created a fictional world of adventure aboard the Nautilus. In the real boating world, the infrastructure required to launch and retrieve a submersible has made it the most challenging toy for gigayacht owners—until now. U-Boat Worx’s Nemo comes in one- and two-seat configurations and, at about seven feet wide, isn’t much bulkier than two Jet Skis. That means the craft can be stored in a tender garage—or sometimes on a hydraulic swim platform—of yachts starting at 90 feet. It can even be towed behind a midsize SUV. That pushes Nemo far beyond the rarefied world of gigayachts.
Despite its compact footprint and highly competitive starting price of $965,000 for the one-seater, this sub is not a toy. U-Boat Worx made no compromises in build quality or technology. Nemo can dive down to 330 feet and has leather seating, exterior lights and an almost 360-degree acrylic sphere for deep-sea viewing of marine life even in the dark epipelagic zone. It runs up to eight hours on the battery, with safety systems positioned across the interior.
A breakthrough design for the submersible market, Nemo lets owners be their own pilots. The first 10 buyers are taking U-Boat Worx’s training course, while on larger subs, a crew member is typically designated as the pilot. For research purposes, the sub has options such as sonar, a manipulator arm for grabbing samples and a GPS-based navigation package.
Superyacht: CRN ‘Rio’
When CRN launched the 203-foot Rio in January, all eyes fell on the dedicated owner’s deck, which has the 775-square-foot private suite of our dreams. As owner areas go, it’s a head-turning design enhanced by the simple-but-functional vision of Italian studio Pulina Interiors. White, light and clean decor is paired with views that stretch across the private foredeck (with a spa pool and sun loungers) for precious alone time. The deck also features an office, a generous dressing room and his-and-hers bathrooms, with an interconnecting shower and bath for end-of-day soaks.
While it’s only proper that the owner should enjoy the best suite on board, the design team realized that special treatment for guests was also an option. Two full-beam VIP suites—one forward on the main deck (with its own grand dressing room), the other located amidships on the lower deck—are what edged Rio onto the winner’s podium. The immaculate sky lounge, which serves as a private salon for the owners but opens for soirées including all 12 guests onboard, sealed the deal. Rio will have a top end of 15 knots and a 4,500-nautical-mile range at 12 knots.
A consistent attention to detail runs throughout, with an elevator that serves the four decks, a sundeck pool, a gym plus a beach club with a chromotherapy shower and a hammam. Even the selection of toys excels, including a chase boat, a tender, E-Surfs, Lift Foils and inflatables. Rio’s secret is ensuring that each area has a standout feature setting it apart from the conventional, much-repeated standards of superyacht design.
Gigayacht: Lürssen ‘Ahpo’
Beyond its colorful spa and multiple-level owner’s decks, this 378-footer from Lürssen has an interesting backstory. The Jamaican owner, who previously built the 283-foot Quattroelle with Lürssen, asked the same design firm, Nuvolari Lenard, to outdo themselves with Ahpo. Three semicircular windows in its profile are the only design cues Ahpo shares with Quattroelle. Otherwise, the boat is an entirely new creation, with sleek, proportionate lines that mask the internal volumes and a mast slightly reminiscent of an exhaust stack of a ’60s ocean liner.
The interior, however, is anything but a ship. The owner wanted a multilevel apartment for himself and his family, so the design team created a “family suite,” consisting of three staterooms, and a palatial main suite with sea terraces on both sides. Up a staircase is the owner’s private salon, offering panoramic views.
The interior is a tapestry of whites, pale-colored woods, stone and omnipresent curves, including the ceilings. The mix of natural illumination and classic-but-slightly-out-there design makes for a fun but elegant celebration of the good life. That’s most apparent in the spa, with a round, ceramic-tiled pool in the center of the lower level and relaxing seating all around. The hammam is Arabic-influenced, with tiles on the wall, a central white fountain and twinkling LED stars above.
Ahpo has a lot of glass throughout, not only for the exterior doors and windows but also in a corridor where the owner wanted guests to be able to see operations in the engine room without disturbing the engineer. Details, both large and small, are what distinguish Ahpo from its gigayacht peers.
Motor Yacht: WallyWhy200
The wallywhy200 is a rule-breaker starting with its name. While “why” stands for “Wally hybrid yacht,” the hybrid isn’t about diesel-electric propulsion but rather a mixed motoryacht-trawler design that combines a relatively modest length overall—88 feet, 8 inches—with a broad beam of just over 25 feet that delivers 199 gross tons. That’s not weight, but interior volume equaling 20,000 cubic feet, or about the interior size of a 165-foot superyacht.
Those dimensions provide a clue about Wally’s high-volume design philosophy. But instead of subdividing the yacht into as many compartments as possible, Wally founder Luca Bassani went big with individual spaces like the teak-covered aft cockpit, the main-deck salon and the glass-encased central stairway that is both structural support and architectural detail. That staircase, the link between the main-deck and below-deck salons, is probably the most unconventional detail in a boat that’s determined to rewrite the rules for wide-body design.
There are other notable features, such as the main suite forward, with windows that run all the way around the bow, offering 270-degree views. Or the angular, carbon-fiber hard top that encloses the upper helm and social area, which are divided by a glass door. Or the stern, which measures 25 feet, 2 inches and has foldout sides that deliver an additional 8 feet at anchor. The area is a water lover’s playground.
Bassani, often years ahead of the rest of yacht design, likens the wallywhy200 to a Porsche Cayenne. “Nobody did a luxury, sporty SUV before that,” he says. “But a few years later, they were everywhere.” All we can say is: Why not?
New Feature: Sunseeker 65 Skyhelm
If we hadn’t tried it ourselves, it would be a stretch to say that one feature can completely change a boating experience. But UK builder Sunseeker has done just that with its SkyHelm option, a helm seat and steering wheel on the flybridge of its 65 Sport Yacht. Typically, driving a 37-ton 67-footer is an exercise in boredom, with the driver gauging depths and channel markers rather than feeling any boating buzz. But the upper helm—with its matching Besenzoni wraparound seats, driver’s legs placed under the steering wheel and a small curved windshield forward that cuts some, but not all, of the wind—gives the feeling of driving a sports car. Yes, a sports car. Maybe it’s because one can feel the hull climbing over every wave, without feeling the running surface crashing below, and at that tall height, the boat—and driver—actually leans into turns. Absent as well are diesel fumes and engine vibrations: Just the fresh ocean breeze rips through. Sunseeker’s design team also created a sporty, uncluttered helm; the center island has digital-analog gauges, throttles for the Volvo 1350 IPS drives (generating 2,000 hp apiece) and a phone charger. The steering wheel itself tilts up, so the driver can stand and navigate in tight quarters or docking, using a joystick. The yacht tops out at only a hair above 40 mph, but it’s still the most exhilarating ride in its class.
Electric Yacht: Vita Lion
Most of the electric boats on the market these days are 20-something-foot models, some designed for slow cruising, others with a peppy top end but limited range. The Vita Lion shows the potential for electric boats—now. With a length of nearly 35 feet, 40.2 mph flat out and a 58-minute charge time, this is a real day cruiser that just happens to have electric power. Its Vita V4 proprietary operating system generates 590 hp, with a cool touchscreen interface at the helm. As with all EVs, acceleration is instantaneous. The open layout, with the double sunbed aft and an open stern with steps down to the water, is easy to love, and the cockpit has four single seats and a bench that’s reconfigurable into a U-shaped dining area with a removable table. It can comfortably accommodate up to eight people on board. There’s also a forward cabin that can be outfitted with a berth and head, while the foredeck has Esthec synthetic teak for slip resistance and sustainability as well as an electric anchor at the bow. Priced at $1,500,000, the boat was introduced last year at the Monaco Yacht Show, but the first production model is being built at Hodgdon Yachts in Maine for completion later this summer. The Lion leads the way for electric vessels that want to be boats, not toys.
Weekend Cruiser: Tecnomar Lamborghini 63
Boat builders that have joined forces with high-profile automakers to establish a name on the water have generally failed. One that seems to be bucking that trend is the $3.5 million Tecnomar for Lamborghini 63. First and foremost, it’s not just a Raging Bull badge attached to a hull: As one would expect from the name, it’s a stylish, very fast weekend cruiser infused with Lamborghini DNA, along with nods to some of the automaker’s latest supercars.
The 63-footer’s sleek styling is heavily influenced by Lamborghini’s 220 mph limited-edition Sián FKP 37 hybrid hypercar—even down to its Verde Gea paintwork. The twin leather helm seats are like those of a Huracán Evo, while the instrument panel and steering wheel are lookalike versions of the Aventador’s. The hexagonal shapes above and below decks—and even on the 63’s profile—are unmistakably Lamborghini. Items like stern lights, which you won’t find on any other boat, the milled rope stanchions recalling the shape of Lambo exhaust pipes and even the door handle on the fridge, shaped like a Lamborghini’s, add an authenticity to the design. Perhaps the coolest feature is the automotive-style helm station, complete with a “Corsa” or “Race” mode setting like the supercar’s dash. With a pair of MAN V-12 diesels, each packing 2,000 hp, the 63 can hit a top speed of close to 70 mph.
Of course, it’s a boat, and Tecnomar did a good job integrating the open bow and stern areas with the rest of the vessel, incorporating spacious lounges and sunbeds for enjoyment at anchor. The second 63 is destined for the US this summer, while hull number one reportedly was delivered to MMA fighter Conor McGregor. Raging Aquatic Bull indeed.
Ones to Watch: Reo Baird and Sampriti Bhattacharyya
How did two MIT-educated robotics experts end up on the leading edge of the yachting sector? “We looked at the disruption taking place on land and in the air and wondered why the marine segment was so far behind,” says Navier CEO Sampriti Bhattacharyya, who holds a PhD in mechanical engineering, specializing in control, instrumentation and robotics, with an earlier background in aerospace, including a stint at NASA. “It came down to the ownership costs. We asked ourselves, ‘What would happen if you reduce operational costs by 90 percent while making the boat easier to maintain?’ ”
The answer is the Navier 27, an innovative electric-foiling dayboat, with the first model being built in Maine at Lyman-Morse and scheduled for an October launch. The 27 will have a top end of 35 mph, and at 24 mph, the range will exceed 75 nautical miles, which Navier estimates is the sweet spot for day cruising.
“This foil control system will achieve unprecedented performance over varying sea conditions,” says Navier cofounder Reo Baird, another MIT engineer, with a background in aerospace. “Solving this problem has required collaboration between experts in maritime, robotics and aerospace engineering to bring novel approaches to the challenges.”
The difference between Navier and most other electric-boat start-ups is not only the advanced design of the boat but also the company’s long-term view. Instead of resting on a cool concept that could go nowhere, the cofounders attracted $9.2 million in seed investments and hired naval architect Paul Bieker, one of the America’s Cup leading foil authorities, to design the boat. They added experts such as Kenny Jensen, a guru in autonomy and electric vehicles, to lead development of Navier’s flight-control system, along with Bruno Hexel, a robotics engineer, to develop the critical software that will deliver the 27’s foiling performance.
The two MIT alums named their company after one of their heroes, Claude-Louis Navier, a 19th-century mechanical engineer who specialized in continuum mechanics. The first 15 hulls, priced around $300,000, sold out within two months of Navier holding a Tesla-style public offering.
While Baird is returning to his roots in the yachting sector—he has owned more than 30 boats and logged over 10,000 miles at sea—boatbuilding is a new venture for Bhattacharyya. And she sees much wider applications for the electric-foiling model. Her long-term goal is to establish a network of electric robotaxis serving coastal cities as a new sustainable form of transport, similar to the eVTOL world’s plans for its mini-helicopters. The partners announced Navier Mobility in April, which will also build its 27-foot foiler in a commercial water-taxi version.
“It’s just the beginning of a new movement, as every form of mobility is transitioning,” says Bhattacharyya. “We’re effectively democratizing the waterways via sustainable technology.”